Album Review – Paul Cowley “Stroll Out West”

This is another review for of an excellent album by Paul Cowley: five classic country blues tracks plus seven of his own compositions. I love the fact that he focuses on the song and a country blues vibe rather than flashy guitar and hi-tech production values.

PAUL COWLEY – Stroll Out West (Lou B Music LBM007 2023)

David Harley

Song of Chivalry revisited

This is essentially the version released on Cold Iron, but with a little trimming and remastering.  I may use it for the refurbished and expanded Tears of Morning album that will accompany the book, rather than the older non-Nashville version.

The guitar is my Baby Taylor, Nashville-strung and tuned to the Nashville version of DADGAD.

When M’Lord returned to his sheets of silk
And his gentle lady of musk and milk
The minstrels sang in the gallery
Their songs of slaughter and chivalry

The rafters roared with laughter and boasting
Beakers were raised and drained in toasting
The heroes of Crécy and Azincourt
Or the madness of some holy war

The hawk is at rest on the gauntlet once more
Savage of eye, and bloody of claw
Famine and fever are all the yield
Of the burnt-out barns and wasted fields

The sun grins coldly through the trees
The children shiver, the widows grieve
And beg their bread at the monastery door
Tell me then: who won the war?

David A. Harley

Epitaph for an Army of Mercenaries revisited

I’ve taken a couple of passes at this setting of a Housman poem (from Last Poems). After I posted a version on one of my blogs, I came across an alternative version I’d forgotten. I didn’t like the vocal much (I never do, but I particularly didn’t like this one), but I did like the synth and guitars, so I did a little splicing and remixing (or is that slicing and dicing?). Coming back to it for a book and album project, I did some more radical slicing and dicing, and I like it much better now.

To be honest, I’m not altogether sure I feel positively about the poem, still less the ‘war to end all wars’, but the poem does have a certain power, without the naked imperialism of Kipling at his worst.

This 1917 poem refers to the British Expeditionary Force, which German propagandists referred to as ‘mercenaries’ because at the outbreak of war, Britain’s army consisted of professional soldiers rather than conscripts or the later volunteers of ‘Kitchener’s Army‘. The BEF was practically wiped out by 1916.

A poem by Hugh MacDiarmid, ‘Another Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries’ takes a very different view, regarding the BEF as “professional murderers”. I’m not sure how I feel about that one, either. Armies may commit atrocities, but its governments that set the context.

These, in the day when heaven was falling,
The hour when earth’s foundations fled,
Followed their mercenary calling,
And took their wages, and are dead.

Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood, and earth’s foundations stay;
What God abandoned, these defended,
And saved the sum of things for pay.

David Harley

Sarah McQuaid on tour

The unbelievably talented and hardworking Sarah McQuaid is about to go on tour again, though her first gig is nearby at the Acorn Theatre, Penzance (20th January). After a number of gigs in the UK and Ireland, she heads off for some gigs in the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark.

May be an image of 1 person and text

If you’re not aware of her recent album The St. Buryan Sessions, there are links to pretty much everything Sarah-related here.

If you’re totally unacquainted with her work, you might like the introductory video here.

David Harley

Cornish sessions

Information from John Tremaine, editor of Folk In Cornwall:

There will be a session at Lostwithiel Social Club, Fore Street, PL22 0BL on Friday 13th January from 8pm – this session is now scheduled regularly for the 2nd Friday in each month.

A new session has been organised at the New Inn, Tywardreath (PL24 2QP) for next Sunday the 15th January from about 7pm. This will be a “Slow and Easy” type tunes session. If successful it is hoped to run every 2 weeks.

NB The January-March issue of Folk In Cornwall is now available:   

David Russell and Survivors’ Poetry

[Unfortunately, the image that was here seems to have got corrupted. As the event was some time ago, I haven’t replaced it. I will post other Survivors’ events as and when I hear about them, and hope whatever the problem was doesn’t recur.]

A very long time ago, I emerged blinking from a failed marriage and reconnected with the London folk scene, where I got to know (among many others) the astonishing poet and guitarist David Russell. Almost as long ago I did quite a few benefit gigs for the Survivors’ Poetry group,  allied with the Campaign Against Psychiatric Oppression, and contributed a couple of poems to two anthologies published by Survivors’ Press.

More recently, having dipped several toes into the Cornish poetry scene, I wondered what had happened to the group and to the Survivors’ Press. As far as I can tell, the Press isn’t doing anything these days.  Sadly, quite a few of the people I knew from that time (Frank Bangay, Razz, Peter Campbell…) have died, but the group is still putting on regular poetry events. In fact, there’s one tomorrow night (29th December 2022) on Zoom, featuring Wendy Young, Jackie Juno, and the same “all-round experimentalist” Dave Russell. That sounds well worth checking out anyway, but I’m rather pleased to have reconnected with Dave, who has sent me a couple of YouTube links that you may find interesting:

David Harley

Suite in Four Flats (and a Maisonette)

Just realized that I haven’t flagged my third book on Amazon (apart from the old security books), though there is a link to the eBook on Lulu in an earlier post.

Anyway, this is a short collection of verse from the 1980s, with some edits and additional commentary.

I’m afraid there’s likely to be some more recent verse in due course…


David Harley

Review of the Nashville Tuning book

Many thanks to Mike Wistow for a lovely review of Introduction to Nashville Tuning for Guitar for

(Yes, I do sometimes write reviews for the same site, but there is no underhand collusion involved!)

If reading the review makes you think maybe you would like to contribute to my retirement fund, there are currently four versions available:

  • The paperback version at £4.50,  at Amazon  (includes links to sound clips)
  • An eBook version with embedded audio clips (there’s also a review by Mike for this one): £3.50 at Amazon
  • An eBook version with links to audio, but no embedded clips: also £3.50 at Amazon
  • If you’re not a fan of Amazon, there’s also an eBook version on at £3.55. No sound clips in that one, but the links are there, of course.

David Harley